UM, MSU students compete in a variety of games to claim trophy
The University of Mississippi‘s competitive gaming organization, Ole Miss Esports, is set to face off this weekend against Mississippi State University Esports in the fourth annual Esports Egg Bowl.
This year’s Esports Egg Bowl again will be a virtual competition. It begins at 11 a.m. Saturday (Nov. 6), streamed live on the MSU Esports Twitch channel.
Paul Gebeline, a two-year League of Legends player, is confident his team is ready to help Ole Miss Esports take back the trophy.
“I play support for the League of Legends red team,” Gebeline said. “Support is, arguably, the role with the most total influence over the game state.
“I feel pretty good about the competition. We’ve wiped MSU in scrimmages and are looking as strong as ever.”
The Esports Egg Bowl will be a one-day event featuring seven different game titles: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Valorant, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Madden.
“The goal for the club and the university is obvious: to win,” said Austin Fortenberry, president of Mississippi State Esports. “As president, the goal is different. My job is to make improvements on the event year to year.
“This event is important to the club because it is one of the few guaranteed events we have. Students who worked really hard to create these events eventually graduate, and it is up to us to continue making them great.”
According to the National Association of Collegiate Esports, more than 170 U.S. colleges have varsity esports programs with more than 5,000 student-athletes. Participating schools offer around $16 million per year in scholarships.
Ole Miss Esports began in 2017, starting as a League of Legends club founded by Cray Pennison. This year, the group received a financial gift from Abb and Jennifer Payne, of Hattiesburg, who also donated to name the Hill Drive entrance of The Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss.
The Paynes’ gift will fund the renovation of the E.F. Yerby Conference Center, which will be renamed as the Payne Esports Facility.
Patrick Spiars, Ole Miss Esports’ president, also plays on one of the organization’s League of Legends teams and is a former player on the Hearthstone team.
“The first thing I’d like to say is a huge thank you to the Payne family,” Spiars said. “They have blessed our program with their resources and have helped us lay the foundation to grow exponentially over the next few years.
“These events are important to the club because they raise awareness of the club as a whole and the program that we have built at the university. Personally, this event is important to me because I am a lifelong Ole Miss fan, and anytime we have a chance to beat MSU in something, I take it.”
Ole Miss Esports offers opportunities for students willing to compete, work behind the scenes and travel. Members can gain experience in social media, graphic design, competitive play, photography, videography and more.
The organization offers a wide selection of competitive play, including Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League, Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege, Valorant, League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Madden, Apex Legends, Dota 2, Knockout City, and Hearthstone. The group can expand to other titles if enough members express interest.
By Grace Ann Alexander